Thursday List – Born Into Film:1974 – Anthony Carpendale
The take over week continues, as does the Born Into Film Series, this week with another good friend of FRC, Ant Carpendale
For the first time readers of this series, here is the low down.
The ‘Born Into Film’ series of lists is the brainchild of Mike P Williams, staff writer here at FRC. The idea is simple -
List a group of films that were released on the year you were born that you would still like to watching today. No rules on list length, it is up to you. As a bonus, list 3 people or so that were born the same year as you that you admire, either because of their acting / directing / writing skills, or even just because they are hot.
The previous weeks can be found here…
Here is Ant’s LIST!!
It’s 1974. Nixon is stinking up the White House, England suffers / celebrates a 3-day work week, Chimpanzee Nim Chimsky signs his 1st word, Sean Connery wears a nappy in Zardoz, and Ceefax wows UK TV audiences for the first time.
The year also bring numerous classic films, including Confessions Of A Window Cleaner, Herbie Rides Again, Chesty Morgan’s Deadly Weapons, and of course the Swedish family adventure Dunderklumpen!
While not a stand-out cinematic year, 1974 did bring some gems. Here’s some films I’d happily sit through again without falling asleep…
From Beyond The Grave
Entertaining anthology horror movie from UK-based Hammer rival Amicus Productions. In the linking tale, the great Peter Cushing runs an antique shop called Temptations Limited. Whenever visitors steal from the shop or cheat the owner, they meet their doom… These cursed tealeafs include – David Warner, whose life is turned upside down by an evil spirit that resides within an old mirror, Ian Bannen, a bored and harassed businessman who lives a lie and falls prey to Donald & Angela Pleasence, Ian Carmichael cursed by an evil elemental that sits on his shoulder, and Ian Ogilvy who steps through a magical door into another dimension. The moral of the story – don’t steal from antique shops, especially if your name is Ian.
A busy year for Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn, who all worked together again in the ace Young Frankenstein later that year, Blazing Saddles is a very funny Western spoof that bombards the audience with classic one-liners and sight gags. Co-written by Richard Prior, who Mel Brooks originally wanted to play the sheriff (a decision overruled by twitchy studio execs who objected to Prior’s drug use and working methods), the film stars Cleavon Little as a railroad worker forced to become Sheriff of a bewildered (and inherently racist) town where everyone has the last name of “Johnson”. Gene Wilder co-stars as drunken gunslinger “The Waco Kid”, who teams up with Little to defeat the corrupt State Attorney and his army of hired thugs, a list that includes “rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperadoes, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers – and Methodists”.
The film does a great job of ridiculing Western movie cliches and helped popularise the scattershot genre spoofs that the Zucker brothers (and Brooks) would go on to make over the next 20 years. Until those arsehats Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer ruined it all with their witless Scary Movie / Date Movie / Epic Movie non-movies.
The Godfather Part 2
As a teenager, I would always fall asleep during the last act of this film. My impatient, unfocused brain didn’t appreciate the subtle, slow-burning atmosphere or the attention to detail in writing, performance and production design. It’s grown on me since then, and I now appreciate it as a brooding study of an extremely dysfunctional family. Pacino’s performance is one of his best, before he got to the shouty “HOOHAA” stage of his career, DeNiro is as good as you’d expect, but the best thing in this film for me is John Cazale’s sad, heartfelt performance as Michael Corleone’s doomed brother Fredo.
An atmospheric, tense mystery drama that’s become a classic thanks to Gene Hackman’s twitchy performance, Coppola’s focused script and direction, and the beautiful sound design and editing supervised by Walter Murch. Both Hackman and Coppola consider this to be their best film, and I’d agree with them. It shares themes with Antonioni’s excellent Blow-Up (which Coppola saw and admired), and is also notable for an early appearance by Harrison Ford, who plays a creepy exec. I think at this point in his career he should go back to playing creepy.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Raw, iconic, much-imitated horror classic. The precision camerawork and editing together with the jangling, cacophonous soundtrack make the film genuinely creepy, and unlike the lazy torture porn that passes for most horror these days, the nastiest stuff happens off-camera. This was partly due to the fact that director Tobe Hooper wanted a PG rating and toned down the violence, but this relative lack of gore makes the horror more queasily effective.
An early example of a low-budget horror film being hugely profitable ($140,000 budget, to an almost $31,000,000 gross overall), it has spawned 3 sequels, a remake, and a prequel.
In 1982, a spin-off game was released for the Atari 2600 console, where the player controlled Leatherface and had to murder trespassers while avoiding deadly cow skulls. It was deemed too violent and flopped.
The film was banned in many countries, including Britain, where it was outlawed for 24 years and only granted a certificate in 1999 after Camden Borough Council depraved and corrupted the populace by allowing a screening license.
Shot on a meagre $25k budget, this hilarious 4th feature from John Waters became very successful on the college and late night movie circuit and helped popularise the director and his talented star. Divine played two roles – angry teenager Dawn Davenport & sleazebag Earl Peterson, while Waters took on multiple production roles, including filming, editing, directing and co-composing. The film focuses on how criminals become celebrated and crime is an art form, with Divine revelling in murder and her new-found celebrity. Filled with oddball characters, off-kilter performances and great one-liners, it’s still one of John Waters’ best and funniest films, recommended it if you’re after a comedy that’s genuinely unique.
Choice quotes -
“I worry that you’ll work in an office, have children, celebrate wedding anniversaries. The world of the heterosexual is a sick and boring life.”
“I’ve DONE everything a mother can do: I’ve locked her in her room, I’ve beat her with the car aerial. Nothing changes her. It’s HARD being a loving mother!”
“I wouldn’t suck your lousy dick if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!”
So who else was born in 1974?
Tricia Helfer, from my fave SF TV show Battlestar Galactica
Christian Bale – Here’s a scene from his best film, American Psycho…
Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo (one half of Daft Punk)
Edgar Wright – arguably the UK’s best currently employed film-maker (Shaun Of The Dead & Hot Fuzz are two of my favourite British films). Here’s a little-seen Super-8 short film he made, featuring Nick Frost
About the author – Anthony Carpendale
Anthony Carpendale is a film-maker from Brighton, UK. Currently developing horror features and working with Sheep Films on weekly TV / online comedy show ‘The Strange World Of Max X’ – http://www.youtube.com/user/DWMaxx/videos – described by film critic Roger Ebert as “gob-smackingly brilliant”. Anthony’s other short films can be seen at http://www.vimeo.com/antcarpendale, and he’s on Twitter – http://twitter.com/antcarpendale
Did you enjoy Ant’s list? What films would you have added? Comment below…